Berlin Biennale
Northern Ireland

In 2016 I attended a creative clinic led by curator and collaborator Annette Moloney. Within 10 minutes, Moloney was quoting Radiohead, and with good humour:


You do it to yourself, you do… And that’s why it really hurts.


I didn’t know it at the time, but when I wrote my MA thesis only 9 months later I would play that song on repeat. My research focused on visual artists in Northern Ireland, collecting different accounts of the role of the artist within society, and current methods used to advocate at individual, organisation and sector level. Song references, for me, have become a powerful tool to communicate, so when I discovered the Berlin Biennale had coined ‘We don’t need another Hero’ as it’s headline – I was intrigued. I applied for the A-N Bursary to attend.


My application was based on this premise, that attending conferences and seminars had become an integral part of my career make-up, writing and disseminating material for wider use, and adding to the bank of information intended to pull us forward in our own thinking. And it’s fair to say I’ve been somewhat in the passenger seat when it comes to actually making art for the past two years. My initial goal of extending such research on an international scale paled on arrival to the biennale. What I discovered instead was an entirely revived urge to create – a surprising re-enforcement of my own values for the creation of work, from the exquisite use of craft and material, the sheer variety of artistic intent, and the sensitivity of communication involved throughout; the conference speakers, within the publication essays, interview transcripts, and of course, the works themselves.


Sara Haq

Things I did that nobody noticed (but that changed everything) (2018). Based on her collaborative and meditative drawing practice, Haq developed new works from a private process that map and heal complex internal states and external situations. As a defiant act of resistance, so as not be destroyed by trauma but to release it from the world, Haq’s works transform these experiences into something beautiful.


Tony Cruz Pabón

Distance drawing – San Juan (Puerto Rico) / Berlin (Germany). An attempt to draw the distance from San Juan to Berlin (approximately 7,681 km). Only 0.138 percent (10.60 km) could be realized, (2018).


Julia Phillips

Expanded (2013–16). A series of prints produced with relief ink, reminds us of the protective role of pantyhose as a second skin, and through its rupture, of skin’s vulnerability. The works  disrupt the historical and phenomenological constructs through which the viewers order their physical and unconscious worlds. If you’re interested in these themes, please please go visit the resources section of her website:  I’ve particularly enjoyed watching Angela Davis’ piece: How does Change Happen, available as a youtube video from her site.


The A-N Bursary has really been invaluable for these reasons and more. It has provided an otherwise impossible opportunity to attend a fantastic arts event, for me the first international biennale I’ve been to. Whilst not fulfilling my own carefully laid plans – I have been pleasantly surprised with the impact the Berlin Biennale has had on me – and I’m continually surprised by the extent this has had on my own practice. Thank you A-N.